Concern for hate speech but not considered a trend
[ By Mark Reaman ]
Graffiti representing hate speech was discovered in Mt. Crested Butte over the weekend. Mt. Crested Butte police received a report on Saturday, February 13 that a swastika had been spray-painted inside the porta potty at the Snodgrass trailhead. That toilet has since been replaced by Gunnison Septic.
“We were made aware of the graffiti this weekend. It does not appear there is a trend of anti-Semitic action in the upper valley that we are aware of other than this incident by Snodgrass,” explained Mt. Crested Butte police chief Nate Stepanek. “The last report I recall occurred at a high school party that took place up Walrod maybe two or three summers ago. The incident was reported by a concerned parent and student from the Crested Butte Community School. Some attendees of the party drew swastikas in the dust on car windows. The parent and student decided to follow up with the school instead of a law enforcement investigation.”
Crested Butte chief marshal Mike Reily also is aware of isolated incidents but doesn’t consider a new trend starting to take place. He noted the arrest related to hate speech that took place on Elk Avenue this summer and he said that he was made aware of an incident that took place at CBCS that is being handled with the school.
The local Jewish community is aware of the incidents and actively trying to participate in making people aware of the situation. “B’nai Butte brought in a Holocaust speaker a few years ago after an incident at the school,” explained B’nai Butte board president Leslie Moskowitz-Elfenbein. She distributed an email this week to the local Jewish community informing them that, “Conversations have been initiated at the school to bring in more cultural awareness and diversification education.”
Gunnison Watershed school district superintendent Leslie Nichols said CBCS administration has dealt with a recent incident of a remark made by one student to another that was culturally insensitive but agrees that it doesn’t appear there is a new trend in hate speech at the schools.
“We are deeply saddened and concerned by this and are working to understand such hate and where it is coming from,” Nichols said. “Our response to hateful behavior is rooted in restorative practices, and focuses on repairing harm to relationships and also using the incident as a catalyst for shared learning and reflection by all involved.
“More generally, as a district we are working to deepen our understanding of hateful beliefs and behaviors so we can further our mission of creating spaces in our schools and our community in which everyone belongs, no matter what,” she continued. “When everyone belongs, everyone can grow and learn feeling safe and supported.”